Soaring out of the sun comes a bright green dot. With a beat of two leathery wings, its true shape comes into focus. The heroes stare in awe and horror. The creature is the stuff of legend, a spine covered green dragon sweeps down on the roof top garden. It circles twice, soaring just out of reach. The heroes can see its bright golden eyes watching and tracking each and every one of them.
It makes a final twist of its great wings and tail and barrel rolls to a thunderous landing in the middle of the reflecting pool at the heart of the garden. Its great size sends forth a wall of water and lily pads across the paved stones of the once peaceful space. It roars and looks and faces the heroes.
"I am Ferreth the Free!" It roars.
"I was once a God for the Ferrential. A noble clan of warriors and monks, who were proud and strong. Above all else they valued self control. I was their perfect example! I taught them that a man ruled by his anger or by his habits is never truly free. Instead, he is a slave to that very anger and habit. The passions control him not the other way around. I taught that a man must control his emotions, control his anger, to know true freedom."
The monster rages, slashing his tail back and forth.
"That was my totem!" He looks at a statue of a great warrior, hewn from rough stone. It looks primitive, but has an incredible strength and presence about it. The head has been destroyed but a hammer.
"Now I am free! For eons I was trapped within that totem," the dragon growls low and starts to move forward, "I had time to think. I realized I had been wrong. True freedom is what I have become. I can do anything I want, destroy anything I want, devour anything I want. I let only my emotions control me, my rage, my anger, my hatred. I have become true freedom!" He stands up on his back legs and belches forth a cloud of poison gas into the sky.
"I awoke, and took this form. I have been growing these last 75 years. I have been gaining strength. Soon, I will be unleashed on the world, I may choose to fight with the Horde when they invade the mountains. I may choose to find the elves that once persecuted my people and destroy them. I may fly to one of the mountain cities and make them worship me again."
He growls low again, "But first, I have decided I don't like you."
His eyes flair with rage as he comes forward!
Shocked in their fear the heroes try to muster their courage. They are stationed around a few totems and spread out as soon as the dragon comes at them. Attacking quickly from range each of the heroes musters their courage to assault the beast. Javelins fly from the hands of Throkk, magic pours into the beast from the spell casters and arrows and cross bolts soar. The heroes are all able to strike the beast, burning and tearing its hide.
In response, the great beast starts with a belch of poison gas, which covers the garden in a green cloud. Expecting the attack the heroes were dispersed enough that not a one of them were dropped by the fumes, but only took minor damage. Its frightful pressence shocks the minds of spell casters and the rogue, causing them to take cover or move quickly away from the monster. It comes forward splashing water across the garden out of the wave pool in a great shower or noise and movement.
It goes for Red Feather, but at the last instant slips allowing Red Feather to call his two ancient tomahawks to his hands and driving them deep into the chin of the dragon. As the spell casters and Ivor regain their wits Turok forms a plan.
"Hurt the beast!" He yells from cover, "and I will cast the final spell!" Following the idea, Throkk and Red Feather, the two great warriors rush forward. The Rogue Ivor moves around the beast to attack it from range. In front of the dragon he attacks Red Feather again, and then beats his great wings, driving dust and wind down against Turok, Sharasen and Zook. Knocking them prone as it leapt into the air and landed in front of Ivor, while crushing stone columns and a marble promenade.
Shocked Ivor drew his sword and attacks, while the rest of the heroes recover from the blast of wings. Turok, seeing the tears in the beast's thick skin and the green foam welling in its mouth casts his Sleep spell. The dragon roars and looks at the wizard, delight dancing in his eyes as he resists the spell, the last he can resist that day. Throkk, fearful of Ivor facing the beast alone charged across the courtyard and raged against the beast, slicing deep into its tail and hind quarters.
Roaring in pain the dragon spun and regained its poison breath. With the recent damage fresh in his mind he passed over the spell casters and blasted the barbarian at point blank range with his deadly breath. The heroes watched as his friend vanished in the fog of unnatural green.
Fearing the worst they rushed forward, to see the half-orc still standing, but badly injured from the blast of poison. Only his orc blood kept him on his feet ready to face the monster with a final attack. More magic and damage was dealt to the dragon, a witchbolt lanced across the courtyard sparking across the dragon with damaging lightening. A bright white moon beam streamed from the sky and moved over the dragon's face, scorching it with druid magic. The dragon raised up on its hind quarters to destroy the half-orc in front of him. Lost behind the dragon, Ivor the rogue slipped out from behind a ruined column and found the side of the dragon, a scorch mark having destroyed its protective layer of scales became the target for his piercing rapier. Ivor slammed it into his side and drove it deep, striking the dragon's heart.
The yellow eyes of the dragon, instantly cleared, and were replaced by striking blue eyes. Human eyes.
Like a mirage the dragon vanished, and standing in front of them all stood an decorated, proud and ancient warrior.
The garden is decimated. Somehow it lies in more ruin now than when you arrived, despite the dragons wrath, the life has gone out of the place. The sun casts harsh shadows into the nooks and crannies around the courtyard. He stares at you, and you see knowledge and understand in the depths below his pale blue eyes. Then in front of you a warrior is standing. He is dressed in ancient looking leather armor. Its held together with wooden beads. In his hand is a long 10 foot spear and round shield with his symbol upon it.
"I am Ferreth and I remember who I am," He says. "Thank you warriors for freeing me from the darkness. I was," he pauses looking around, "Confused, but there was some one here. He encouraged me, but now I don't feel his pull."
"I will no longer terrorize the skies, I will return to my ways and I would encourage you, see what I became when I let me emotions take over and became chaos. Do not be ruled by your emotions, for you will be come their slave." He walks over to his broken totem and places a hand on his statue's chest.
"You know," he says, "I can remember every face of every member of my tribe. All of them are eons gone. I will claim you as mine, even if you don't choose to claim me. Do well to save this world for men and beasts. I fear it is in a greater danger than any of us know." He pushes on his totem and it starts to slide with a great grinding across the stones, he stands aside revealing a staircase down into the garden.
"The treasures of my tribe can be found in this grotto, you may each take what you need and no more, for this is also the only grave for my people that I have. Return when you are done".
Next to Ferreth's totem is another totem that looks like a bundle of reeds, blowing on the window a shimmering figure appears. She is a beautiful but seems completely frozen and unmoving from her spot. "I believe Tamitar, totem-god of Safe and Good Travel also wishes to speak with you." He smiles.
"Go, down and retrieve what calls to you and return, then you can speak to Tamitar".
Shocked by the results, Turok steps forward, untrusting.
"You just tried to kill us, and now you want us to go into a dark cellar. Prove to me spirit, that we can trust you."
"Turok," he says, "I have claimed you as my own, despite your elven nature. My shield is yours, my spear is yours, for you have freed me and I will not return to who I was. Go. Trust me."
Hesitantly, Zook walked down the stairs into the dark. Throkk, still reeling from taken the full blast from the dragon, stumbled over to the group and resisted. Drinking a potion from Turok, as he stepped away from the totem-god.
Walking down the stairs, Zook feels a draw, out of reality in some way. Like he suddenly had traveled in space and time away from the totem garden, to somewhere else. In the groto he found shelves lined with treasure, gold, weapons and finely crafted artifacts. Strangely, he didn't feel a call to any of the treasure. He wandered through the gloom and came around a corner to find an item he knew was meant for him.
Individually, each of the heroes followed the same path as Zook, walking down into the dark, only to find an item, calling to them, and having no interested in taking anything else.
Red Feather found, hanging on a reed manikin, a hood, made from the pelt of a wolf. The head teeth of the great hood sat just above his forehead. As he put in on magic flowed through him. His senses, sharpened, his reflexes strengthened. He walked out of the grotto wearing his new Hood of the Wolf with pride.
Turok was one of the last to walk into the grotto. He was immediately overwhelmed with the arcane power in the place. He was drawing to the back of the grotto. Leaning in the corner of the room, away from all the rest of the shelves and military gear, he found a staff. When he grabbed it, the power coursed through him. As a wizard, he suddenly knew that this staff had been meant for him, across the ages. It is gnarled and polished to show many knots still left in the hard oak. In an art lost to the ages, the stain of the wood is a luminous dark red.
Sharasen wandered through the shelves, his short size making it hard to see the top of the storage. Wandering into an area full of ancient weapons, he found two sticks, hanging over the edge of a shelf. Reaching up to grab them and pull them off he found two dark wood, lacquered tonfas. Their magical properties caused the weapons to immediately shrink to fit his smaller size. Using his monk abilities, he took the new weapons for a quick kata, finding them to be perfectly balanced.
Turok, slowly recovering from his ordeal wandered into the dark and immediately drawing to a reed manikin rack, containing a fine coat of bronze scale armor and weapons. At the base of the sat a pair of boots. Their leather and fur immediately fit his half orc attitude. He slipped on the boots and felt a connection to the ground he hadn't had before. Allowing him to move faster and plant his feet, so as never to be moved.
Ivor discovered a pair of thin leather gloves. When putting them on he released that they would allow him to change the power of his weapons but also could be the salvation of his friends.
Zook wandered through racks for a while. Absorbing the history until his eye fell on a single ring. It was made from a polished white metal, with two opals set directly across from each other. This ring, when he wears it will being him to aid his friends, where ever they might me.
When they collected themselves back in the garden, the totem-god Tamitar spoke to them. She is completely unmoving, in a very unnatural way.
"I am Tamitar, my people were nomads and travelers. I have not been tainted by the destruction of my totem, though I have felt the call and that desire. To fight the darkness I have become perfectly still. I am the reason all the roads you have traveled are covered in grass, for without my protection they have returned to their early state."
"You have done well on this quest, and you have returned Ferreth to his true state. In my powers is the ability to help travelers on their way, and to know who traveled and to where. You have witnessed the destruction of the Book of the World names and now the man Marsus knows all our true names. He will use this knowledge to bind us and our powers to him. However, the Priests of Assar, creators of the Book, kept a secret copy. Just before the war I watched as a Priest took the book and escaped. He traveled all the way through the mountains in disguise, until he stopped in a city called Twilight Park. I know he had the Book with him when he arrived. His name was Ashur Anktan he was a great Priest of Assar. Find the book and his priestly medallion and you will have the power to bind or free totem-gods, just like Marsus is planning. With this power you can stop Marsus or help him, as you choose. You can stop the Wild Hunt, if you choose. I believe the age of the totem-gods is coming to an end, but if it doesn't than the Wild Hunt, or Marsus could rule all. When you are ready, I can send you to the gate of Twilight Park, so you can begin your search."
As they prepare to leave, Ferreth begins to grow. His ancient bronze armor turns into scales. His body lengths and his face because elongated. Before them, stands a Copper Dragon. The size of Ferreth when he was green. Now the scales have a slight bluish tint. His eyes are deep turquois orbs.
"I have chosen you. As such you can call on my aid when the time is right. Remember not to be a slave to your emotions, but control them so that you are the master of your own self. Until then my tribe. I will protect this place and try to find what it was that was lurking in the darkness. I fear that many of the lesser totem-gods have fallen into madness, there are certainly more dragons and even worse, so be mindful in your travels." He roars and a great beat of his wings he takes to the air.
The weary heroes look at each other and agree that they are ready. Sensing this, Tamitar, opened the world to them, and in a sudden flash the roof top garden that had been silient for nearly 75 years, the site of brief flourish of magic and destruction, returns again to simple silence. The garden is empty, rubble and muddy water spread all around. Lily pads start to curl from the day time heat. A small red butterfly lands on the should of a broken statue, then flitters away, looking for some shade to spend the day in.
So fun to wrap up the first book with the guys. This was the scene I had waited all summer and fall for and couldn't wait to finally have it out. Disappointed again that the CR rating and the party just don't seem to match. I don't think the battle had the proper level of drama for a boss battle so that will be something I will look at for the next adventure.
I hope the magic items all the guys got will work well in the game, will see.
We had a great night, after the final battle we had gumbo and then the boys had a double elimination tournament. It was a great time with a tie between the two tanks, but a close finish once Turok hit his stride, nearly beating Red Feather it came down to them both having just a few HP and shooting fire bolts at each other.
The next adventure will have a totally different feel. I plan on it being city based, with some adventures leading out of the city. This should get some more NPCs in the game, but also give the guys a chance to build their PCs into proper heroes, with some renown and property, etc. Looking forward to introducing some new and much more challenging enemies in the next adventure as well.